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New York Times, Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Author:
Sam Buchbinder
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
48/19/201410/4/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0130000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62020
Sam Buchbinder
If I only had a brain...

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {J} Spans: 4 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Buchbinder. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Buchbinder notes:
Hello! I am very excited to be debuting my first published crossword. I'm 28 years old, and I've been trying my hand at ... read more

Hello!

I am very excited to be debuting my first published crossword. I'm 28 years old, and I've been trying my hand at construction for the past three years. I teach History to amazing High School students at 10X225 in the Bronx, and they know very well about my crosswording habits. My wife, Kim, supports the addiction as well. The cat, Charlie, enjoys sitting on my computer while I attempt to construct. I began constructing after going to see Will Shortz at a Times Talk. I told my friend Pete about it, and we sat down in a coffee shop with some graph paper and tried to come up with a puzzle, figure out the grids, etc. Since then, I've submitted several puzzles, and this is my first one accepted!

As for the puzzle, I am actually at a loss for where it came from. It clicked that in the Wizard of Oz each of the three characters was searching for something at the end of the Yellow Brick Road. I wanted to play off of that "search" idea, and so I looked for phrases that each ended in the things each character was searching for. Originally, HEROINE, which crosses down the middle with DOROTHY was not going to be a theme answer, as it would have to fit through three theme answers. However, after working through some words, I realized that HEROINE would fit, and it would cross with DOROTHY. Pretty cool.

The difficulties in the fill came in the northeast, center and southeastern portions of the grid. It took a few re-writes to get some of the three-letter fill to be better. The center was very tough since it was restricted by multiple theme answers. My favorite answers in the puzzle are GROUPONS, KLUTZY and CLASSISM. As a history teacher, the Wizard of Oz is often seen as an allegory for the Populist movement, which was partially a fight by farmers against the wealthy big business owners. So, I appreciated that CLASSISM ended up in the puzzle.

Finally, I found out that the Wizard of Oz premiered in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where I went to camp for ten years of my childhood.

All told, I've very excited for the puzzle, and hope everyone enjoys!

Will Shortz notes:
This Tuesday-level puzzle is timed to coincide (as closely as possible) to the 75th anniversary of 'The Wizard of Oz,' which will be ... read more

This Tuesday-level puzzle is timed to coincide (as closely as possible) to the 75th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz," which will be next Monday. The intersection of HEROINE (23D) through three theme entries is particularly elegant. The circled O-Z in the lower-right is a nice touch, too.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! And such a fun one. I love the ambition. Working with four grid-spanning themers is hard, as that necessitates a lot of down ... read more

Debut! And such a fun one. I love the ambition. Working with four grid-spanning themers is hard, as that necessitates a lot of down entries crossing two themers. To add in two interlocking 7's (DOROTHY and HEROINE) plus OZ is reaching for the stars.

Loved the OZ reveal and how it's at the end of the YELLOW BRICK ROAD. Hard to believe that no one's thought of executing this theme like Sam did.

As with most audacious constructions, there are trade-offs. Good thing I had vaguely heard of ZAC Efron (a person I follow on Twitter is obsessed with him), because the Z of ENZI is not at all inferable. There are a few more spots that felt pretty crunchy to me, but that's bound to happen with these layer upon layers of constraints. I was actually surprised to see that there weren't more glue entries necessary.

Take the NE and SW corners, for example. Because Sam had to deploy so many of his black squares around the center of the grid, he was forced into using big, wide-open corners. And for a first construction, they're not too shabby. GROUPONS is a fresh entry (although we'll see how long Groupon stays in business). CGI and SSNS are perfectly fine by themselves, but amassed with ENID and ARA makes for a bit of inelegance. Tough to fill these themeless-like spaces with quality and smoothness.

Finally, what a nice SE corner. Not easy at all, considering OZ sits diagonally and Sam had no flexibility in YELLOW BRICK ROAD's placement. To work in KLUTZY is not at all klutzy.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0819 ( 23,660 )

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Across
1
Olympics awards : MEDALS
7
Nabs : CAPTURES
15
Actress Mayim of "The Big Bang Theory" : BIALIK
16
Deals buyable via a tap on an app : GROUPONS
17
IBM's Watson, essentially : ARTIFICIALBRAIN
19
"What did I tell you?" : SEE
20
"___ Carter III" (Lil Wayne 3x platinum album) : THA
21
Finishes : ENDS
22
Put down, as an uprising : QUASH
24
Smooching on the street, e.g., briefly : PDA
26
Embolden oneself : GETUPTHECOURAGE
33
Cookie ingredient in dirt cake : OREO
34
Tin Man's worry : RUST
35
Corn Pops competitor : KIX
36
"Leaving ___ Vegas" : LAS
37
23-Down of a classic L. Frank Baum novel : DOROTHY
40
"So ___ heard" : IVE
41
Communication used at Gallaudet University, for short : ASL
42
Yours, in Tours : ATOI
43
Declare : AVER
44
Dear : NEARTOONESHEART
49
Take advantage of : USE
50
Key key on a keyboard : ENTER
51
Stick with a knife : STAB
54
Actor Efron of "Neighbors" : ZAC
55
Beats by ___ (popular headphone brand) : DRE
58
Path taken by 37-Across to find the ends of 17-, 26- and 44-Across in [circled letters] : YELLOWBRICKROAD
64
Unaided vision, with "the" : NAKEDEYE
65
Ham-handed : KLUTZY
66
Charge of the 1% against Occupy Wall Street : CLASSISM
67
Feels : SENSES
Down
1
Degs. held by Romney and Bush : MBAS
2
The Emerald Isle : EIRE
3
Possible outcome of an eHarmony match : DATE
4
2001 Will Smith biopic : ALI
5
Boost : LIFTUP
6
Top of a mountain? : SKIHAT
7
Film special FX : CGI
8
Southern constellation : ARA
9
David Axelrod or Karl Rove, for short : POL
10
Rubber ducky locale : TUB
11
Erect : UPREAR
12
Horse hue : ROAN
13
City west of Tulsa : ENID
14
Figs. with two hyphens : SSNS
18
"Cold, hard" money : CASH
22
Quid pro ___ : QUO
23
See 37-Across : HEROINE
24
Fancy-schmancy : POSH
25
Responsibility : DUTY
26
Israel's ___ Heights : GOLAN
27
Clear : ERASE
28
Electric car company : TESLA
29
Abbreviate : CUT
30
___ Goldsman, Oscar-winning screenwriter of "A Beautiful Mind" : AKIVA
31
Donor : GIVER
32
Apply, as force : EXERT
37
"___ what I'm talkin' 'bout!" : DATS
38
Plains tribe : OTOE
39
Friend of Pooh : ROO
43
___ Lingus : AER
45
What Stolichnaya is sold in : RUBLES
46
Wyoming senator Mike : ENZI
47
Library area : STACKS
48
Jeer : HECKLE
51
Match up : SYNC
52
Green-blue : TEAL
53
___-Seltzer : ALKA
55
i's and j's have them : DOTS
56
Bulldoze : RAZE
57
Ben & Jerry's alternative : EDYS
59
Some serious hosp. cases : ODS
60
Fifth-century Chinese dynasty : WEI
61
Fly-___ (close passes by plane) : BYS
62
"Losing My Religion" band : REM
63
Jog : RUN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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